Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us if we’d consider ourselves patriotic or not. I’ve never cared for this question, mostly because I’d rather just skip ahead to a time when our world isn’t defined by borders, but rather the lack of them. I’m one of those people who loves Star Trek not (just) because of the cool costumes, but because in it, Earth stands as a united front, a small part of a much larger federation of planets that coexist in peace. Now that is a flag I’d gladly fly! Sadly, peace and patriotism often seem mutually exclusive these days. Will the world survive long enough to get along?
I love lots of things about living in the USA. In comparison to most of my friends, I grew up poor. Still, I had a roof over my head, plenty to eat, and got to go to junior high and high school for free. I didn’t have to walk to school every day, or worry about invading armies raping and pillaging. I didn’t have to worry that saying one thing wrong or being in the wrong place at the wrong time might end with me being burned at the stake as a witch. I wasn’t sold into slavery or given away for marriage, and now that I’m grown up, I’m allowed to do whatever the hell I want to. Sure, I grew up among bible beaters, racists and homophobes, but (sadly) none of those problems are confined to American soil. Now here I am at 31, having been given a leg up and the opportunity to study, travel, and grow to understand the shortcomings of my environment. So it’s definitely not all bad. It’s not even half bad if we consider some of the atrocities that are considered part of the every day in other parts of the world.
But the thing is, no matter how good Americans have it, these so-called freedoms come at the expense of a great many people, animals, and natural resources. And waving a flag and proclaiming my love of this land isn’t going to get me (or anyone else for that matter) anywhere. We are killing the world with our insane love of oil. We could be running on solar power, like Germany, or garbage, like Sweden. We could be avoiding these constant engagements in the Middle East, or at least abstaining from bankrolling half of the political machinations that go on there. We could be preserving our landscape, animals, and climate. But instead we’re jumping head-on into all of this bullshit, just so the corporations that pay to keep our politicians fat and happy can get what they want. Oil. Plastics. Weapons & Building Contracts. Not saying that we shouldn’t be doing our part to encourage world peace, but our interest should be solely that of the peacekeeper, not of the profiteer.
So no. I’m not patriotic. I’m ashamed that my country is defined by greedy politicians, corrupt corporations, and media outlets that care more about one spoiled pop star than genocide in the Middle East. I’m ashamed that we as a people can’t seem to stop fighting about the small stuff long enough to grasp the big picture.
But I refuse to give up on the world, or my fellow creatures, human and non. I want to be a world citizen, and I will. If my difference is only getting to understand and empathize with the world I meet through my travels and on this blog, so be it.
Hopefully, I’ll get to do more.